Motorola Defy

If you've smashed an iPhone or dropped a Droid in the dunny, then you're probably in the market for a Defy, an Android smartphone with some great features and a protective rugged chassis.

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

Construction workers and klutzes have reason to celebrate. After demolishing numerous smartphones due to improper handling, there is finally a touchscreen handset that is not only dust and shock-proof, but water-resistant as well.


If you've researched rugged phones before, you'll know they are universally ugly devices. The Sonim series of "indestructible" phones may be able to withstand a bullet, but its Transformers-like chassis is bulky and far from the best fashion accessory for a night out in a fancy restaurant. The Moto Defy bucks this trend, and though its matte plastic body falls short of being absolutely drool-worthy, it is a cool-looking handset nonetheless.

Around the edges of the Defy you'll find six screws, and the battery cover is locked down with a sliding latch. This, apparently, provides enough protection to withstand being submerged in up to one-metre of water, and though you'll probably still want to keep it away from water where possible, it is sufficient to survive rain and, god forbid, being dropped in the dunny. We completely submerged the phone in a glass of water for several minutes while shooting the video review (above) and found the phone to be completely functional afterwards. Interestingly, you can't use the touchscreen underwater. We found that the touchscreen actually responds to water, so there's no chance of taking this phone scuba-diving for some impromptu underwater photography.

Protecting it from the keys in your pocket, the 3.7-inch capacitive touchscreen features Gorilla Glass. The touchscreen is reasonably responsive, though like the Milestone 2, we have noticed that interacting with the Defy can seem a bit sticky at times. The phone will respond to gestures promptly, but animations, like scrolling through the list of installed apps, can appear a bit jerky. Motorola has included a Swype keyboard in the Defy, and while we love this addition, it is yet another example of where the response time of the phone can drop to an irritating level.


Beneath the rugged good looks of the Defy beats the heart of a fairly average Android smartphone— in terms of software. The Defy runs on Android 2.1 with Motorola's MotoBlur version 1.5. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we don't like MotoBlur very much. It takes the enormity of the social network experience and distills it down into a handful of widgets and an app that pools all of this information into one not-particularly streamlined location. We spent about a day with MotoBlur before we removed the widgets from the homescreen and installed TweetDeck instead.

But there are other parts of the standard smartphone experience that Motorola does very well. The music player in the Defy is probably the best music application we've used all year. It does the basics well; it plays music loudly, displays album art, has multiple search filters for organising music; but it also adds a couple of really excellent web services. There's TuneWiki, an app that streams album art and the lyrics of the song you are listening to so that you can sing along. It can also show other TuneWiki users on a Google Map so you can discover new music through what they are listening to. Shoutcast is also installed and lets you tap into the vast, seemingly endless world of internet radio. But our favourite part of the player is the YouTube integration. If you feel your music needs a visual component you can launch a YouTube video search of the song and artist you are listening to from the menu and play the clip without leaving the music player.

Cinema lovers will also make good use of the baked-in DLNA media sharing software, identical to the Media Share tools we found on the higher-priced Milestone 2. With Media Share you can stream videos, photos and music in both directions, plus you can transfer files to and from your phone. This is very handy when you are visiting that friend who happens to have an amazing library of media.

We also found the 5-megapixel camera to be better than your average smartphone shooter. It's paired with a dual-LED photolight and features all of the customisable settings users probably expect in a camera of this calibre, but its the pictures that have really won us over. After taking 50 or more photos, we were pleased to see a majority of those were in focus, and the colour of the scenes to be accurately recreated. With the LED photolight doing well not to overpower the photos, the camera does a fine job even in low-light situations.

The 5-megapixel camera is good enough to capture this sleepy pup's gross, goopy eyes.
(Credit: CBSi)


As we noted early, the performance is consistent, but the Defy could use a bump in processing power to run the system MotoBlur infused Android platform without jagged, jerky animation lag. This isn't to say we've struggled to use this phone, in fact we've had a great time using it as our day-to-day handset, but it certainly lacks the polish of this year's best touchscreen smartphones.

Call quality during our review has been exceptionally good. We tested the Defy on Telstra's Next G network and found the people we spoke to sounded as clear and natural as they'd be if they were standing in front of us. Data speeds were also good and the phone was prompt in deferring to WiFi when we can within the range of a known network. For rural readers, Telstra has also informed us that the Defy is the latest addition to its Blue Tick range of phones, indicating superior coverage for customers who might otherwise struggle to make a call.


There's plenty to like about the Moto Defy: it offers a good smartphone experience with Android and protects itself from the bumps, knocks and splashes of everyday life with its rugged casing. What's really won us over is the extra attention paid to the phone's multimedia, both in capturing and in playback. The camera is well-made, the music player is first-class and the DLNA media sharing feature is a welcomed bonus. We wish Motorola had used a more powerful processor and more RAM to iron out some of the issues we've experienced with lag, but if you can look past this these niggling frustrations you'll discover a very capable phone in the Defy.

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"Never ever buy this phone. Save yourself some money and get a nokia 100."

ukuser posted a review   
United Kingdom

The Good:difficult to break

The Bad:read below

pros: difficult to break

cons: you really do want to break it

Why? I hear you say. Well here goes:

1. The phone constantly crashes and then restarts itself. If you don't realise this is happening, the battery will use up all of its charge in a couple of hours.
2. Very Very slow processing. good luck trying to play any games at all.
3. The camera takes poor photos and is inept at focusing.
4. Customer service and motoblur are both awful.
5. opening an app normally causes the phone to crash

However, on its good days, the defy is excellent. The android system is strong and many of the media services have potential.

It's a shame the defy doesn't have any good days so I ended up using an old nokia 100 until my upgrade comes.

Conclusion: Never ever buy this phone. Save yourself some money and get a nokia 100.


"Good by Motorola"

itasjim posted a review   

The Good:Is tuff

The Bad:All of it

Frequently freezes up, and at the most frustrating times, like when someone calls you and you swipe to answer and crap - freeze. Not good for a phone. Also reqularly freezes up after a charge.

Only way to restart phone is to take the battery out and start again.

Very slow sometimes, only way to address is, you guessed it, take the battery out and start again.

All reviewers below have covered the same problems I have with this phone.

I have been faithful to Motorola now for over 15 years progressively upgrading through the RAZ series of phones and feel duped by the purchase of this phone.

Good by Motorola, hello Samsung Gallaxy III


"Crap. Frustrating, time-wasting crap."

Bretteffect posted a review   

The Good:The camera is OK

The Bad:Everything else.

The touch screen often just ignores any touch whatsoever, then at other times, despite having the in-pocket auto lock on, it decides to do its own thing and party at my expense.
Software seems to freeze up whenever, and removing the battery seems to be the only way of getting going again. Motoblur is aptly named, but not because of speed, just blur.
I have persevered for six months - I shouldn't have. A small drop resulted in a cracked screen and no-one is interested in warranty anymore, so Motorola is off my shopping list.

RobertS6 Facebook

RobertS6 posted a review   

The Good:nothing !

The Bad:everything !!

What a piece of absolute garbage this phone is.
Aptly named "Defy" as it will defy you to enjoy using it.


RobertS6 posted a comment   

The Good:nothing !

The Bad:everything !!

what an absolute piece of garbage this phone is.
"Defy" is appropriate - this phone will defy you to have an enjoyable telephonic experience


"not water resistant"

35salmon posted a review   

The Good:compact, good apps

The Bad:slow, freezes up and shuts itself down

the defy is a good phn but its not water resistant as mine is in getting repaired due to water on the main board, which needs to be replaced costing about $160, not happy, so if you do get it wet it may take months before it goes with no warning :(

BrettR2 Facebook

"Failed in the first week and spent two weeks waiting for it to come back."

BrettR2 posted a review   

The Good:It introduced me to an iPhone!

The Bad:Reliability, warranty, interface, Motorblur

Failed in the first week with numerous software problems. Now I know why it has a removable battery, to reset it! Motorola warranty service is send the phone away and wait, and wait, and then wait so more. End result had to file complaint with the Ombusman and phone contract was cancelled. Keyboard very average. Motorblur a nightmare. After a week it was hard to tell what was poor software or creeping faults. Battery life was very average. The replacement was an Apple iPhone and frankly it made the Defy look very average. Everything on the Motorola Defy is so much harder to do.

Big thumbs down on the phone and the company.

DeanO2 Facebook

"Good phone but not always water resistant"

DeanO2 posted a review   

The Good:easy to use

The Bad:back pops open

Just remember that your phone is only water resistant if the back stays on the phone. Mine for some strange reason unlocked every now and then and because of the design, if it unlocks, it pops the back open and lets water in.
Motorola warranty does NOT cover for water damage!!

LynnieF Facebook

"Conned into buying"

LynnieF posted a review   

The Good:Can't think of one thing!

The Bad:Doesn't get the rural coverage that I was promised.

My contract expired and Telstra contacted me to see if I was going to renew. I said probably not because I don't get service where I live and Optus had told me that I could get it with them. The girl on the other end of the phone told me that the Motorola Defy had a blue tick and that it had rural coverage. So - sure send me one! First problem - you need a data point to set it up. Great if you have one! Not so great if the data plan is only linked to the new phone which you can't set up and obtain the data plan without it. Understand? Next problem - battery won't hold the charge!!!! Runs out after about 3 hours. Ring Telstra - yes that is because it is searching for a data network. They tell me to place it on airplane mode when not running the data plan. And now the clincher - the $60.00 Australia Post throwaway phone I was using previously has more connectivity in my area than the new phone. I can't get any reception whatsoever at home. I back out of the driveway and drive about a kilometre down the street until I get one or 2 bars on the phone. Last but not least - the screen keeps freezing. This phone is driving me nuts. Unfortunately I am on a contract now. Thanks very much Telstra. Does anyone know what I can do?


"Don't buy it"

Jayne.b posted a review   

The Good:Hard to find

The Bad:Lousy

I've HAD one of these for the last 14 months and am FINALLY rid of it. Heats up applications keep stuffing up. Switches itself on and off and last time I was talking to some one on it couldn't hear what the person was saying for the horrible noise

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User Reviews / Comments  Motorola Defy

  • ukuser



    "pros: difficult to break

    cons: you really do want to break it

    Why? I hear you say. Well here goes:

    1. The phone constantly crashes and then rest..."

  • itasjim



    "Frequently freezes up, and at the most frustrating times, like when someone calls you and you swipe to answer and crap - freeze. Not good for a phone. Also reqularly freezes up after a charge.

  • Bretteffect



    "The touch screen often just ignores any touch whatsoever, then at other times, despite having the in-pocket auto lock on, it decides to do its own thing and party at my expense.
    Software seem..."

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